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May 7 Update from Pastor Nathan

Hey church!
I want to keep you updated as we continue to pray and discern how God is calling us to be the church during this unprecedented time.  Remember the church is not closed–you are the church–and God is working through you in all sorts of awesome ways!
Here are three things I want you to know:
  1. We have created a Re-Gathering Task Force to discern when and how we might gather again in our facilities.  This team is made up of Christ-centered leaders who bring strategic insight from a number of professional angles.  They will be reporting back to the Governing Board to give guidance to our next steps.  I want you to know that we will continue to make these gathering and ministry decisions based on 1) what is wise and loving towards our community and 2) what allows us to be an effective part of God’s mission during this time.
  2. As part of our Re-Gathering Task Force’s work, they have created a survey for the congregation to fill out regarding how you are feeling about gathering again and under what circumstances you would feel comfortable doing so.  Please give us your feedback if you haven’t already.
  3. We launched Interactive Worship last Sunday and it was a big hit!  Live chat, prayer requests, and it was just awesome to see everyone checking in!  We’ll do it again this Sunday at 10am, on both our website and on Facebook.  And hop onto the webpage version a few minutes early for a chance to chat and say “hi” to one another.  Worship will also be available on demand all weekend.  Join us!
While these are difficult days, God has given us unprecedented opportunities to be the church during this time.  I want to encourage you to continue to be part of that.  Keep engaging with online worship services and inviting people to join you.  Keep sharing, commenting, and liking on social media a Christ-centered way.  Keep calling and texting each other with encouragement.  God is not wasting this pandemic, but using it to create new faith!  Let’s be part of that!  
 
Be the Church!
Nathan

April 30 Update

April 18 Update

At Lutheran Church of the Cross, March 13 was the day that we were forced to stop doing church as we had become accustomed to it.  It was time to stop talking about all the things we should be doing to empower our members to BE the church, and actually put some of those ideas into action.  While this wasn’t a choice, and it definitely wasn’t easy, we are seeing God at work in some miraculous ways.

Here is how we are staying connected to our congregation and our community:

  • Weekend Online Worship – We pre-record our weekend worship service and make it available on-demand by Saturday afternoon at www.lccaltoona.org/watch.
  • Kids Connect Videos – Our Children’s Ministry coordinator, Kristie Kolsrud, along with her family, records a 5 minute “Kids Connect” video with a “big idea” and activity.  (www.lccaltoona.org/watch).
  • Virtual Wednesday Youth Nights – Our Discipleship Pastor, Noah Ruppert, records a 10 minute message and worship segment for our Wednesday Night Youth.  Our youth small group leaders set up zoom calls with all of our 6th-12th grade youth to check-in. (www.lccaltoona.org/watch).
  • Daily Facebook Live – Each weekday, one of our ministry staff leads a 20 minute Facebook Live session.  These have ranged from live music, to scripture reading, to devotionals.  Whatever the staff member chooses.
  • Daily Verse and Prayer Prompt – If you choose, you can sign up to receive a daily Bible verse and prayer prompt via text or e-mail.  Click HERE to sign up to receive this daily encouragement.
  • Phone Call Team – We have a team of members making weekly calls to our 65+ age group to check in with them and make sure they are doing okay.  If you aren’t currently getting phone calls, and would like to ensure we have correct contact information, click HERE to complete an online connect card.
  • Virtual Small Groups – Our group leaders are encouraged to connect with their group virtually.  If you aren’t already part of a group, click HERE to complete and online connect card.
  • Prayer – Add your prayer requests to our online prayer wall at www.lccaltoona.org/prayer, or submit a prayer request through our online connect card.
  • Giving – We have been blessed to continue to receive your generous financial support, which allows us to continue to support our ministry partners as well as our congregational ministry efforts.  If online giving isn’t an option, you could consider mailing checks to our office (1701 8th St SW, Altoona, 50009), or use your bank’s bill pay system.

We continue to discuss and research ways that we can improve how we are reaching the community and the world in meaningful ways.  We know that this is not going to be “over” or “back to normal” any time soon, and our desire is to see God glorified in ways we never could have imagined.

March 17 Update

We are still the church!

Dear Lutheran Church of the Cross,

Our world has changed.  Our normal patterns, plans, and sense of security have been pulled out from under our feet.  But here’s what I want you to know: God does some of His best activity in times of uncertainty.

In the Old Testament, when God’s people faced overwhelming odds in battle, God would show up, bring the victory, and grow their faith.  In the book of Acts, when persecution broke out against the church, God used it to spread His good news to new places.  When the One who was supposed to be the Savior of the world was dying on a cross and all seemed lost, that’s when God was saving the world.  God most certainly does some of His best activity in times of uncertainty.

We are the church.  We have talked about this for years.  You don’t go to church; you are the church.  And now, in the midst of these uncertain times, we trust that God is going to do some of His best work in us and through us.  God is going to grow our faith and use us in new ways to share that faith.  And so it is time to step up and be the church by staying connected to God (UP), staying connected to each other (IN), and loving our wider-community well (OUT).

What will this look like?  While the situation changes by the hour and we will experiment as we go, here is the game plan as of now:

Being Wise and Loving

As we seek the wisdom of our national and state leaders as well as seek to love the most vulnerable, our facilities are closed and in-person worship gatherings are suspended until further notice.  Remember to follow CDC Guidelines by practicing social distancing, washing your hands, etc.

Worship Doesn’t Stop

We will have three online worship connection points each week.  You won’t want to miss these timely, encouraging, and Spirit-filled times united in worship! All videos can be found here.

  • Weekend worship service available on demand starting Saturday at 5pm each week.
  • Wednesday Lent/Youth Service available on demand starting Wednesday evening.
  • Kids Hour Experience available on demand starting Saturday at 5pm each week.

Let’s Pray

What better time to grow in our communication with God and get into His Word!  Don’t forget about our 40-Day Prayer Challenge and our online prayer wall.

Encourage One Another

This is such an important time to stay connected with your small group and other Jesus-centered friendships.  Join our Lutheran Church of the Cross Facebook and Instagram pages.  Make use of video conferencing, phone calls, texts, and social media.  Check in with one another, pray for one another, and encourage one another.

Give Help.  Get Help. 

The needs will be great during this time.  The Church has a history of stepping up in times of crisis to care for the vulnerable, to give generously, and to love in radical ways.  This is our time to step up.  If you have a need, know someone who does, or you want to serve others, check out our website to get connected!

Giving

Right now 400 families are enjoying our food bags thanks to your generosity!  Praise God!  During this time, the opportunities we have to be the church are unprecedented.  We need your help.  Currently only 40% of our giving comes online.  Please take a moment to set up online giving today or mail your offering to the church office so we can be the church effectively during this time.

I am confident that God is going to do some of His best activity during this season of uncertainty.  While we are real about the difficulties of this time, we are also real about the hope we have in Jesus.  Don’t forget to laugh, to smile, and to invest in your loved ones.  We are the church. We were created for moments like these.  In these uncertain times, let’s live with certain faith: stay connected to God (UP), stay connected to each other (IN), and let’s love our community well (OUT). 

Be the Church!

Nathan Anenson

Sr. Pastor

March 14 Update

Includes service information

Dear Lutheran Church of the Cross,

We are the church.  The church is not a building or a worship service.  We are the church—especially for days like these.

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to grow.  After prayerful consultation with medical professionals, other church leaders, and public health officials, we have decided to cancel in-person worship services this weekend (March 14-15).

We do not make this decision lightly.  Gathering as the church is central to who we are.  This is the first time that I know of that Church of the Cross has cancelled worship.  This decision is not based on fear but on love (1 John 4:18).  According to respected medical professionals, this is a critical time to slow the spread of the Coronavirus through social distancing.  It is for that reason, out of love for our friends, family, and neighbors—particularly for the sake of those who are most vulnerable—that we are not gathering this weekend.  We want to do our part in slowing this disease and allowing the medical field time to be prepared.

The good news is that we can still be the church!  Here’s how:

  • Worship Online.  We will record a worship experience, similar to a weekend service. It will be available on demand starting Saturday evening and throughout the week ahead.  It’s easy to do. On your personal computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone, go to lccaltoona.org/watch and click play on the video.  Our current series called “How to Talk with God” is a perfect fit for this weekend.
  • Give Online.  God’s mission continues and you get to be part of it.  You can take this opportunity to set up one-time or recurring gifts if you have not done so.  Or feel free to mail or drop off offerings to the office.
  • Pray.  We are in the midst of our 40-Day Prayer Challenge.  Keep going or start today!  Pray for those affected physically, emotionally, and economically by this pandemic.
  • Serve.  If you know someone who is part of the vulnerable population, reach out and see if there’s anything they need, like you picking up groceries or prescriptions for them.
  • Stay connected.  Follow us on social media (Facebook) to stay up to date with current communications and conversations. We also have created a page on our website to find up-to-date information on LCC’s coronavirus plans.  We will continue to monitor the situation and make decisions day by day and week by week.  Thanks for your prayers, grace, and flexibility.

As Lutheran Church of the Cross, we are all about multiplying practical faith—faith that makes a difference in everyday life.  That is what we did last week.  That’s what we’re doing this week.  That’s what we will be doing next week.  Nothing in our world will change that.  In fact, we are the church for such a time as this.  Our plans and procedures may change, but our mission does not.  “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline” (1 Timothy 1:7).   So in these extraordinary days, let’s live in a way that shows the world that we are the church and that practical faith in Jesus makes all the difference.

See you this weekend for online worship!  Invite your friends!

Nathan Anenson

Sr. Pastor

March 12 Update

There has been a great deal of concern regarding COVID 19.  In times like this, it is important to remember the unique perspective we have as followers of Jesus. Psalm 46 reminds us that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.” As we respond to this situation, we do so remembering that God is still in control and we can find peace in Him no matter what comes our way. The staff and Governing Board at Lutheran Church of the Cross are monitoring reliable sources, including the Iowa Department of Health, Polk County Health Department, the Centers for Disease Control, and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance to guide our response.  We will continue to formulate plans according to recommendations from professional health and human service organizations.

For now and into the foreseeable future, all Lutheran Church of the Cross events and activities are proceeding on schedule.  We have enhanced our cleaning processes in our church buildings, and more changes to our operations and activities MAY be made in the days and weeks to come. Our desire is to be cautious and care for our members and guests, but not be fearful in our reactions.

This weekend (March 14-15) all worship services will happen as scheduled, with the following cautionary measures:

  • Greeters will open doors as you enter so you don’t have to touch the door handles.
  • While we love being friendly, we will avoid shaking hands and other physical contact.
  • LCC Staff will be at the Kids Check-in to print nametags.  No self-check-in this week.
  • Offering will be collected in buckets during communion, so we will not pass the offering plates.  You can also give your offering online.
  • If you are uncomfortable coming or you are sick, we will record the ENTIRE SERVICE Saturday night and it will be available online anytime Sunday morning and throughout the week.
  • These plans are subject to change as we receive more information.

We recommend, along with many others, that you personally can and should take simple preventive measures, as recommended by health officials:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects, including your cell phone, and other surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Stay home when you or members of your family are sick, even if just a cold, to protect those who are susceptible to illness.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • If you travel to a high-alert area (CDC travel), we urge you to consider refraining from attending church events, classes, and services until the 14-day time-frame has been followed.

Thanks for your partnership in the ministry of Lutheran Church of the Cross. Know that we will monitor, plan and implement wise preventative measures with a desire to continue to gather as the church and serve people well.  As we trust in our Refuge and Strength, the One who remains in control, we pray for clear understanding as we seek to respond as a faith community to this crisis. Continue to pray for those affected by this virus, their caregivers, and the many people who are working tirelessly to minimize the impact of this virus.

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